Spring 2021

Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology

Listed in: Geology, as GEOL-321

Formerly listed as: GEOL-32


John T. Cheney (Section 01)
Victor E. Guevara (Section 01)


The majority of Earth’s volume is composed of igneous and metamorphic rocks, which originate through processes that operate deep beneath earth’s surface, driven by the movement of tectonic plates. Igneous and metamorphic rocks preserve an interpretable record of the creation and modification of continents, mountain building, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. The formation and existence of these rocks, in turn, modulate global volatile cycles, and the evolution of life-forms on earth. In this course, students will explore the processes and environments involved in the genesis of igneous and metamorphic rocks by integrating field and petrographic observations with quantitative applications of experimental data and chemical principles (thermodynamics, major and trace element geochemistry). A virtual field trip in the Appalachian Mountains – a formerly active convergent plate margin -- will investigate the construction of volcanic arcs and continental crust, as well as how heat and mass are transferred in earth’s lithosphere during mountain building events. Through field and laboratory investigations, students will learn how to read the archive of earth processes as preserved in igneous and metamorphic rocks and make inferences about the implications of their formation for the evolution of the Earth system.

GEOL 321 will be conducted in the "hyflex" format, using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities. Lectures will be asynchronous; lab activities and a classroom discussion section will be synchronous, and will involved close interaction with the faculty for all students in the course. In lab activities, students will work collaboratively with each other to identify and characterize rock specimens in hand sample, under the optical microscope, and with the scanning electron microscope, and ultimately to interpret the processes involved in their genesis. For students learning remotely, lab materials will be provided, and participation in lab activities and discussions will be enabled by live video and digital file sharing with collaborators in the classroom. A virtual field trip will allow students to make field observations and interpretations of igneous and metamorphic processes. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: GEOL 111 and GEOL 271. Spring semester. Professors Guevara and Cheney.


Lab Science Course


2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020